World War II Hero Mystery SOLVED; Author's Mission Complete

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM MULLEN

MISSING details about the life and times of a Second World War hero can finally be told.

Nearly 70 years after RAF rear gunner Sgt Frederick 'Leonard' Molteni paid the ultimate sacrifice over occupied Belgium, his life story can be revealed.

Sgt Molteni was killed with his five Wellington bomber crewmates on a doomed mission in 1941 when they were shot down over the Belgian coast.

His grave now lies in Belgium and, as reported in the Chronicle, a historian is trying to trace the 23-year-old's surviving loved ones in order to write a book.

Former acquaintances, friends and distant relatives of Sgt Molteni have already provided glimpses into the airman's life on Tyneside before the war, but their memories are vague and the jigsaw remained incomplete.

Now the sergeant's great niece, Nicola Graver, has been traced to Canada, and she has revealed this fascinating old photograph of her Great Uncle.

Nicola's knowledge of her family history completes the puzzle of the airman's Tyneside roots, which are being probed by a Belgian Army officer and war historian who wants to create a lasting record of his life.

Nicola, 46, who settled in Calgary after leaving England to work as a nanny in 1988, said: "Leonard was my Great Uncle. My grandmother was his sister, Doreen.

"Leonard's family lived in the areas of Heaton and Gosforth in Newcastle. His father was an accountant, his grandfather was from Italy and his mother was half Irish. Leonard was the fourth of five children, his sisters have all died and unfortunately his youngest sister Winifred - known as Fay - just died earlier this year.

"She used to tell me about how she and Leonard would joke around together.

Fay moved to London during the war and lived there for her whole life. …

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